No Deal with the Devil, Not this Time!

What we need is a CLEAN Dream Act

By Glenn Magpantay

Congressional lawmaking is often likened to making sausage - stuffing casing with a mix of the real thing and mystery meat. Horse-trading and unrelated riders onerous to those who would support a good bill is a time-honored tradition. The result is that Americans often pay a high price when laws are made. This time, the President has beat Congress to the punch.

On Sunday night Oct. 8, it was widely reported that President Trump sent a letter to Congressional leaders offering a Deal with the Devil. He would have us protect the lives of 800,000 youth brought to this country as minors, so - called Dreamers, from deportation in a draconian exchange of restrictions.

There are an estimated 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and 169,000 Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs) are eligible for DACA. Without the DACA program, many LGBT and API youth could be deported to countries that criminalize homosexuality, some even calling for the death penalty. To keep them safe a clean DREAM Act without additional enforcements is a necessity.

Yet Trump seeks to trade on this immense vulnerability by straddling new DACA/Dream ACT legislation with a wish list of severe measures including:

* Money to build a wall along the Mexican border

* Changes to deportation laws making it easier to send undocumented immigrants, including unaccompanied children, back to their home countries

* Crackdowns on sanctuary cities

* An end to "chain" migration, facilitating sponsorship of extended family members

* Creating a "merit"-based immigration system cutting down on the entry of unskilled workers

* Obstructing a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.

In other words, trading lives in exchange for comprehensive anti-immigration legislation. NO! Not this time! People across the country, including LGBTQ Asian Pacific Island communities, demand that Congress pass legislation which definitively protects all Childhood Arrivals.

In September, our communities were struck a blow when Trump called for an end to DACA. Since then, he flip-flopped on support for undocumented youth, cynically played Democratic leaders against the Republican Congress and challenged them to pass a new Dream Act. Now he proposes adding restriction upon restriction to the already tainted sausage mix.

Undocumented youth deserve to live, work, and study in the US without fear of deportation and without the nation paying an unconscionable price for those liberties.

What's Next?

When Trump announced the canceling of DACA he opened the door wide to partisan game playing and opportunity for unacceptable riders. Not in our wildest dreams did we think he would attach such draconian provisos to the passage of such a bill.

Is it grandstanding, bullying or a real threat? Trump has not said he would veto a bill that did not include these provisos, but the game of threatening Congress and the public is too dangerous to add to the playbook of creating legislation.

Canceling DACA puts the lives of 800,000 undocumented young people at risk of deportation. NQAPIA demands a clean DREAM Act without any enforcement provisions. The DREAM Act and DACA are already a compromise for so many people in our communities. We need immediate full-throated Congressional support.

Glenn Magpantay is the executive director of National Queer Asian Pacific Island Alliance. NQAPIA is asking the public to contact congress calling for a Clean DACA. Phone banking is ongoing and NQAPIA is asking all to join and put pressure on Congress for a clean DREAM Act. Visit the website to learn more.
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